Monday’s verdict in the fodder scam, sending former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to jail, for which he could be disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha - which could jeopardize the UPA government’s already wafer-thin majority, is all over the news but how much do you know about it? Check out our primer.
What the scam was about:
“The scam was, basically, about a group of suppliers, government officials and senior bureaucrats siphoning off the government’s money in connivance with the then political leadership. The animal husbandry department of the government of Bihar used to supply fodder, medicines, artificial insemination instruments for livestock all over the state. They used to supply less than what was shown on paper or they would not supply anything at all but would show it on paper after fudging the figures of the government grant,” Rakesh Asthana, who was CBI’s superintendent of police investigating the scam, told Rediff.com’s Sheela Bhatt.
What it entailed:
“A large amount of money was withdrawn from the government’s treasury. In short, it was a loot of government’s money by the government’s officials backed by the political leadership. About Rs 950 crore was looted by government officials in ten years. It was a huge thing for all of us at that point of time,” says Asthana.
How it was unearthed:
Thanks to the Comptroller and Auditor General, of course. But the Lalu government did not table the CAG reports for four years since it exposed his government’s malfeasance, and when he finally did so in December 1995 it blew up in his face. In March 1996 the CBI was brought into the case as per the Supreme Court’s order. The CBI named the case RC-20A/1996, and this was the one that cooked Lalu’s goose on Monday.
Number of cases:
Although Lalu has been convicted, the fodder scam cases are by no means over. In all there were 54 cases, and nine more are yet to be decided. In all more than there were more than 600 accused, of whom more than 500 have been convicted so far.
When Bihar was bifurcated to form Jharkhand, 52 of the cases went to Ranchi, and only two remained with Bihar.
Contrary to popular impression, Lalu was not the kingpin of the scam. “The main kingpin of the scam was Shyam Bihari Sinha who died long back,” recalls Asthana. “He was a regional director, based in Ranchi, of the animal husbandry department. He was the man who chalked out the plan and carried it out. He paid senior and junior officers, regional leaders and top political leaders to carry on with the scam.”
The charge-sheet in the fodder scam reveals that he used to protect the scamsters knowingly and in return he used to get illegal gratification from the main accused. “We were able to establish the bribe money. Also we could establish how he and his family members took favours like accepting air tickets. Money for travel for Lalu Yadav’s family members was paid by the scamsters. We could establish the connection to the scam and bribes given to Lalu Yadav,” says Asthana.
And on Monday, the court agreed with the prosecution’s case and convicted him in the case, virtually bringing down the curtains on one of the most illustrious political careers in post-Independence India.